Cyprus limits emissions

NICOSIA – Cyprus aims to limit greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent above 1990 levels by 2020 by increasing the minimal amount of energy that the island now taps from renewable sources. Without any energy saving, emissions could increase by 150 percent until 2010 and by 200 percent by 2020. The gas emissions target of 50 percent is the absolute maximum Cyprus can achieve, officials said this week. «In order to achieve something beyond this target we would have to switch off power,» said Christodoulos Mesimeris of the Environment Service at the Agriculture Ministry. Incentives to cut emissions include the development of renewables, the introduction of natural gas for power generation and industrial purposes and development of public transport. «Until today, nothing essential has been done for the limitation of greenhouse gases,» he said. In 2005, emissions were already 61 percent above 1990 levels. Official data show that between 1990 and 2005 the number of passenger vehicles in Cyprus grew by 92 percent. Only 2 percent of Cypriots use public transport. Power production represented the bulk of emissions with 53.8 percent of total production in 2005, according to the data. The transport sector represented 27.6 percent of emissions. According to Eurostat, carbon dioxide emissions in Cyprus exceed the output of the European Union average per head by anything between 10 and 20 percent. Authorities say there is a legal framework and a grants scheme in place, but Cyprus’s present contribution to emissions reduction has been restricted to solar thermal energy, a commodity the Mediterranean island has in abundance. Cyprus is a participant in the European Union’s emissions-trading scheme, Europe’s key tool for meeting commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, although the country has not ratified the actual UN agreement. The government submitted a revised national allocation plan for Phase II of the trading scheme (2008-2012) in February after the EU’s executive rejected Cyprus’s initial proposal for being too lax. A final decision from the Commission on Cyprus’s new plan is expected in the coming weeks. Cyprus recorded verified emissions of 5.1 and 5.3 million tons of CO2 equivalent in 2005 and 2006 respectively, well below the Phase I annual quota of 5.7 million tons as assigned by Brussels. Renewables now represent 0.3 percent of Cyprus’s total energy generation. That accounts for about a megawatt in installed capacity of photovoltaic, wind generation and biomass systems altogether. «Our energy policy aims at increasing the share of renewables on power production to 6 percent by 2010,» said Yiannis Chrysis of the Energy Department at the Commerce Ministry. The low representation of renewables in power generation has to be sought in the lack of information and public acceptance, said Mesimeris of the Agriculture Ministry. Makis Ketonis, a license holder for wind power, said that while government policies were well-intentioned, implementation faced tough bureaucratic procedures and a lack of structures to support government decisions. «This makes the whole thing so tragic,» he said. According to Mesimeris, the reason for the rapid emission increase lies in Cyprus’s economic development strategy. «The development model we apply is founded on the wrong basis. We want golf courses, desalination, marinas, but say no to photovoltaic and wind farms. We are currently ruled by developers.»

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